|traditional Chinese character for LOVE- with a HEART.|
|simplified Chinese character for LOVE-NO HEART!!!!!|
I was on the beach near Dulan, in Taiwan, when I started writing I love Taiwan, in Chinese, in the sand. My Taiwanese friend was like ‘NO, don’t write it in simplified, especially not the character for love; let me show you the traditional way of writing it.’ That’s when it dawned on me! In the simplified character for love, there is NO heart. NO HEART, PEOPLE!! When simplifying Chinese characters to help make as many people as possible literate on the mainland, what on EARTH were they thinking when they removed the ‘heart’ component from the character for love?! How can you love without a heart? Is this even possible? It gave me a lot to think about and I started wondering how many other characters out there have also had their main function just stolen from them?! Love without a heart? Nope, not going to happen. But this is why I love Chinese characters…so much analysis can be done with just one character. I’m going to start looking out for other characters with unique stories like the one for ‘love’. But seriously…it’s pretty fascinating hey!
|Bags at the door, I threw myself onto my friend’s beanbag and sunk in, not wanting to leave. Taiwan had really crawled under my skin and I just couldn’t shake it. What was it about this place that just got me?! I still hadn’t fully figured it out, and I knew I’d be back soon. After one definitely-not-final farewell to my friend, I hopped in a taxi to the Youth Commission building for one last meeting with the lovely Youth Trekker committee. I’m pretty sure my sadness at having to leave was evident, and after telling them about some of my favourite moments from the trip, I became quite overwhelmed by how truly amazing my experience had been, and it was all thanks to these lovely people for giving me the chance. I can’t describe how thankful I am! Wow! Before I knew it, it was time to head onwards to the airport…But of course this is Taiwan, so not before one final fateful encounter. There I was, sat in a corner cafe, sipping on some wildberry juice. Something made me glance up and I realised I knew the person walking by. I’d shared a dorm with him three days earlier in Hualien, and now there he was, strolling happily through the streets of Taipei. I tried to chase after him but he’d crossed the road and disappeared by the time I made it outside. Funnily enough he was one of the people I’d been talking about all my little coincidental encounters in Taiwan with. And now, there he was, a part of my peculiar story. That’s how insanely-cool Taiwan is. It’s like one big community. Everywhere I went I met people who knew other people I’d met, or I bumped into people I actually knew from other countries. It’s what makes this place so special and why I’ve loved it so much. It’s a country that makes you feel at home, a country that you really become a part of, and don’t get me started on the creativity flowing throughout this place…inspiring beyond words. And it’s not just the art work, or the theatre, or the live music, it’s the people. The people make a place. And in Taiwan the people are wonderful! They inspired me, motivated me, overwhelmed me with their kindness. They made me laugh, they made me remember that it truly is the little things in life, but most of all they made me want to move here and immerse myself in the exciting, creative catalyst that is, Taiwan!|
|I woke up after the best nights sleep, and stared out at the ocean and palm trees blowing in the breeze. I’d heard about a great place for ‘real’ bread, Marino’s Kitchen. So I headed along the road to try out this spot. They weren’t wrong. I opted for ‘super bread’ which is a whole-wheat bread with more than 40 different grains. It was so yummy! I then spent the morning exploring the local area with my friend who I just met the night before. That’s how friendly people here are! Willing to spend their sacred Sunday to show a newbie around. We visited one of his friends who wants to cultivate the land around the place he lives, to grow rice paddies. While they discussed the plans, I basked in the beauty that was this dreamy piece of land. Mountains and palm trees with coconuts behind me, the ocean in front of me and right next to me, an entire field of pink flowers, which I plopped myself down in, and actually spoke aloud to myself ‘is this for real?!’ The lady of the house had backpacked around Scotland when she was younger, and here I was backpacking around the country she lived in. It just seemed right that we should meet. The man of the land was very happy to discuss creativity and the future of Taiwan with me, and it really got my mind ticking. It was so nice to spend a morning sipping tea with new friends and discuss the wonderland that is Taiwan.
I was pretty excited for today because I would be spending the night in a gorgeous little hostel, nestled in the mountains. Taitung Sea Art Hostel, owned by two of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet in this country. The two of them, their adorable son and their pets, live hidden away in the most beautiful spot. A multi-coloured traditional Taiwanese home, which they’ve painted themselves, full of character, surrounded by lush plant life and the mountains and forest, as well as an insane amount of butterflies. You couldn’t ask for a better hide-away. The other two travellers wandered off into the valley to do some yoga, and I was offered some bananas from their tree. How will I ever leave this place, I instantly thought? I flopped onto the softest bed I’ve ever lay down on, and just smiled.
As if one night of music wasn’t enough, the old train station in Taitung was holding a mini music festival called ‘Hello! Taiwan!’ at Tie Hua Music Village. This journey just keeps getting better, keeps exceeding my expectations! Situated on the grounds of the old railway, they’ve created a big open wooden stage for performers right between the trees. Music and nature together, wow! There were 5 bands playing throughout the night, and everyone was just chilling on blankets on the grass, soaking up the atmosphere, and quite literally, the rain. However, to my surprise they were giving away free raincoats to people! Oh yeah! There I was, lying on a blanket in the rain. Cup of lemon tea (1 free drink per ticket- 200NTD) in one hand, camera in the other. And the bands were great! Insane energy! There was one band from Canada and one band from the USA, and three from Taiwan. All of them had such original styles and completely engaged the audience with their own, individual music. At the end of the night they all sang U2’s ‘with or without you’ together and flew their flags and there was a huge sense of togetherness. An accumulation of the cultures, brought together through music. It was really special. And who would have thought such a fun event would take place on a lazy Sunday evening in a sleepy little city?! That’s how cool Taiwan is. Always full of surprises! People like to have a good time here, and everyone was singing and dancing and jumping, and no one cared about the rain or the fact that it was getting late. Even kids were skipping along and enjoying the music. It was such a fun evening, and I’m so glad I got to be apart of it all! Everyone there was chatting and dancing together and generally just enjoying this lovely life! It really is the small things in life, isn’t it?